Oy. Where do I even begin with this?
I suppose I should start by saying, I did not read the Fifty Shades of Grey books. I went into this movie–one of the most anticipated of the year–with an open mind and the assumption that a lot of the sex stuff was going to be relatively censored for the R-rating and it was really going to focus on the love story. Part of this was true. From what I’ve been told, the sex stuff was censored (though not really in the grand scheme of non-porn cinematic sex scenes, but I’ll get to that…) and it did focus on the love story. Only the love story was hella awkward and toxic and nothing you’d really ever want to see.
I’ll start with the sex because it’s not even the worst part about the movie. The way I see it, whatever gets you going–whatever tickles your pickle, whatever gets your motor humming–is awesome and should not be judged so long as all parties involved are consenting adults and everyone is having fun. Whips your thing? Go for it. Prefer good ol’ missionary? That’s gotten the job done for centuries. I will say, however, the sex scenes were cringe-worthy, but that had a lot to do with seeing this movie in a theatre surrounded by strangers and the inordinate amount of times Dakota Johnson’s nipples were front and centre on screen (FYI: in the name of equality, Jamie Dornan’s peen is not shown once!). On the point of BDSM, I did read this article that outlined some of the aspects that the movie got wrong about the community, and while I’m not sure how much of this is true or not, based on what I’ve heard on the quality of writing, and lack of research and use of a dictionary, by original author E.L. James, this isn’t at all surprising.
I tried so hard to be open-minded about Fifty Shades, but putting the sex aside, the love story was toxic and downright terrible. And what made it worse was that the all-female writer/director team (Kelly Marcel and Sam Taylor-Johnson, respectively) seemed to be kinda condoning this type of relationship. We’re talking the “Will he? Won’t he? Where is his head really at? Will he call me?” kind of mind game relationship that almost never ends well and is fuelled by a masochistic, jealous passion that is often misconstrued as love.
To be fair, Johnson’s character Ana is a part of this game as well, going back and forth with her decision to be a part of this twisted relationship because she likes the chase and Dornan’s Christian Grey provides her with just that. But the acting wasn’t even convincing. Johnson and Dornan’s lack of on-screen chemistry was so glaring you couldn’t even get into the passion, hype and allure of this taboo kind of sex.
Combining both the relationship and sex aspects, Ana is a seemingly weak-minded character whose naïveté borders on annoying. I understand that in a Dominant-Submissive relationship, theoretically, the Submissive holds all of the power because they’re the one to say “Yes. No. Stop. Go. Yellow. Red!” and all that in between. But Ana just came across as yet another woman duped by a pretty face in a fancy car (though the face and the car were both pretty hot, admittedly). I had heard this story was supposed to empowering for women, and while I think empowerment is in the eye of the beholder and can be interpreted in so many ways by so many factors, it really doesn’t feel empowering at all.
Sigh. At least the soundtrack is freaking amazing, and that’s a fact.